With the increase in high-level tricks seen in dancers today at Port Orange dance studios, you have to wonder how in the world these skills are achieved! What is the secret sauce that some dancers have to get their legs higher, their turns faster, and their jumps more elevated?
In addition to excellent technique, strength training has gained popularity in the dance community as a way to achieve new levels of excellence. Properly executed strength training skills can prevent injury, increase stamina, and contribute to the overall longevity of a dancer’s career.
It should go without saying that any additional training outside of the dance studio should be done with permission from your teacher, and with the supervision of a fitness professional.
Strength Training For Injury Prevention
Dancers are known to push through an injury, deeming any pain to be par for the course of dance study. But pushing through an injury can be detrimental to a dancer’s health and contribute to more injuries over time.
By adding strength training to your dance training, you may actually be able to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place! According to physical therapist Robert Tsai of Dance Prehab, dance training alone is limited in what it can provide in terms of increasing strength.
Adding simple strengthening exercises like lunges can go a long way toward creating much-needed stability and power in the legs and glutes. Here are a couple of great strengthening exercises to add to your routine!
Begin by standing with your feet under your hips in parallel. Then, step forward with one foot far enough in front of you that your knee can bend to a 90-degree angle. You should be in a lunge with both knees bent.
Then, bring your other foot either to meet your front foot (this will be the easier method until you feel confident) and then step forward, or swing the back leg through and directly into a lunge.
To make this exercise even more challenging, add small hand weights!
Lateral Band Walk
This exercise requires a Theraband or exercise band in medium strength. Begin by tying your band around both legs, above the knees. There should be a fair amount of tension in the band when your legs are hip-width apart.
Then, sink into a shallow squat, keeping the knees tracking over the toes. Stepping laterally, or to the side, take small steps in one direction, never bringing the feet totally together and keeping some tension in the band. Try for 10 steps to the right, 10 to the left, 2 to 3 times each.
Strength Training For Increased Stamina
Dancers are athletes, there is no question about it. And just like other athletes, dancers are asked to perform at a high level for longer and longer periods of time as they advance in their training. Stamina is necessary for those 8-minute production numbers, non-stop hip-hop routines, and a long day of rehearsal at Port Orange dance studio.
By including strength-based exercises that combine endurance and cardio aspects into your week, you can set your body up for success once recital, audition season, or competition rolls around.
Twisting Mountain Climbers
Begin in a plank position on the floor, squeezing the abs in tight and maintaining a neutral spine. Then, bring one knee into your chest towards the opposite elbow. Repeat on the other side. Continue this pattern for as many reps as you can while maintaining proper form.
This exercise begins in a low lunge, with one leg bent at 90 degrees, and the other lengthened in the back. You can place your fingertips on the floor for stability. Then, bring the back leg up to the chest in one smooth movement while jumping straight up with the standing leg. Imagine pulling your back leg into passé and doing a sauté.
Repeat 10 times on the right, and 10 times on the left, maintaining proper form throughout.
Strength Training For Longevity
Young dancers may not realize it, but taking dance classes throughout their childhood can benefit them for years to come. It has been well-documented that physical activity can help prevent all kinds of ailments from dementia to heart disease.
By beginning to incorporate movement at a young age, dancers will be more likely to continue some kind of physical activity throughout their lives.
Strengthening exercises like bird dog and squats work to help our bodies with tasks we do daily like going from sitting to standing. As we age, these tasks can become more difficult if our bodies aren’t staying in top shape.
Begin on all fours, with your knees directly under your hips, and hands directly under your shoulders. At the same time, reach your right arm forward and your left leg back off the floor, so you create one long line from fingertip to toe.
Keep your hips and shoulders level so that no twisting occurs. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and lower. Repeat 10 times on each side.
There are many ways to make squats more interesting and tailored to your specific needs at your dance studio, but a basic squat is simple and effective. Begin standing with your feet in a wide parallel second position.
Sending your weight back into your heels, bend your knees so that your bum is parallel to the floor. Keep your chest lifted and your gaze forward, not down. Repeat as many times as desired.
Strength training doesn’t have to be daunting or scary. As you can see, there are many exercises you can do that don’t require anything but your own body weight. Under the supervision of a teacher or trainer, you may want to add hand or ankle weights to some of the exercises to increase difficulty, but for beginners, using your own body weight is perfectly effective.
Check out this article on staying hydrated at your dance studio!